A/N: This is my first fanfic, I am usually an original story author. However, I am so inspired by Ms. Harris' works, I couldn't resist. All reviews are appreciated.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or stories from The Southern Vampire series. I can only hope that Ms. Harris does not mind me taking them out to play with.
"Sookie... Sookie, wake up."
I vaguely heard the voice of Amelia, my roommate, and swatted at her hand as she gently shook my shoulder. I was in the middle of one of those waking dreams, and this was a particularly pleasant one I was determined not to be shaken from prematurely. My Great Grandfather Niall and I were fishing, warm sunlight pouring onto the little canoe we occupied on the lake. I laughed heartily as he got a bite and looked, perplexed, at the bobber in the water. He was a 1000 plus year old fairy prince, after all, and had indulged another of my childhood dreams by taking me on this fishing trip. I climbed over to his side of the canoe to help him pull the line from the water, but as I did I rocked the boat a bit too much and into the water we both went. We were laughing and splashing in the water, but then he suddenly grabbed my shoulder and started shaking me...
"Sookie! WAKE UP!" came Amelia's voice from Niall's throat. I blinked, finally being startled back into reality.
I shot up in bed and glared at Amelia, snapping, "What??"
Amelia puffed out her cheeks with an exasperated exhale, catching my glare with an annoyed one of her own. I felt a twinge of guilt, knowing Amelia wouldn't enter my room, much less wake me up, without good cause. "I'm sorry, what's wrong?" I asked.
Her expression became a bit more anxious, "Sookie... the King is here."
I stared at her blankly, still a bit groggy with sleep. Then I caught the flash from her mind of the King of Nevada (and now Louisiana and Arkansas) standing in our doorway. My eyes went wide and Amelia simply nodded in agreement. With a start I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom, attempting to quickly tidy my hair. I was still dressed, albeit in just a t-shirt and sweats, having meant to simply curl up with a book when I'd gotten off the lunch shift at Merlotte's earlier that day. I must have fallen asleep, for sure enough it was dark out. Well duh, Sookie, a vampire wouldn't be at your door if the sun were still up! Why on Earth is a vampire at my door? Well, vampires appearing at my house is hardly new, but this particular vampire was certainly out of the norm. I was not at all used to entertaining the undead equivalent of royalty.
As I smoothed my ponytail and applied a bit of lip gloss I was suddenly overcome with a wave of fear, and sat down on the edge of the tub to attempt to collect myself. Felipe de Castro had taken over Louisiana by force just a few weeks ago. In his wake was a string of dead vampires, including the once Queen, Sophie Anne, and several of the area sheriffs. He had been ruthless, sending his henchman Victor on an almost blitzkrieg style raid on the state that had culminated in a final showdown with Eric in my living room. Eric had capitulated (my latest word of the day from my calendar) mostly because he had no choice if he wanted all of us to survive.
"Oh Sookie, dear?" I heard Amelia call in a saccharine sweet tone that only thinly veiled her growing agitation. I jumped, realizing I'd been sitting here mulling for far too long, and gave myself one last superficial glance in the mirror. I was hardly dressed appropriately to receive a King, but I figured it was his fault for showing up unannounced. Taking a deep breath to steel my nerves I headed toward the kitchen.
The moment I entered, Felipe, who had been seated and drinking a True Blood Amelia must have warmed for him, rose to greet me. In one graceful stride he was standing before me, taking my hand and lifting it to his lips, "Miss Stackhouse," he said with a flourish in his thick Spanish accent. Felipe de Castro was certainly a handsome King, even if he was sorely out of date with his fashion sense. He reminded me a bit of Jimmy Smits, whom I'd always found attractive, with his golden skin and flowing black hair. He was dressed in a kind of billowy, white poet shirt and black leather pants, which were tucked into boots that reminded me of a pirate. Perched around his shoulders was the cape I remembered from the night I had saved him and Eric from a crazed Siegbert. Siegbert was thought to have been killed along with Sophie Anne, having been her child and body guard. I wondered to myself if de Castro had discovered how his survival could have been overlooked by Victor, and I shuddered when I remembered plowing the ancient vampire over with my car.
I attempted to smile and curtsy to Felipe, though I must have looked quite awkward in my movements. "Hello your... highness," I stammered. Hey, I'm American after all, we don't have royalty to bow to or address in such formalities. If Felipe was amused he didn't show it, but politely stood aside, gesturing for me to join him at the kitchen table. I pondered where Victor might be, and stretched out for a moment with my mind to feel around. I noticed not one, but two blank 'voids' outside, along with a human. I can't read vampire minds, but I can notice the presence, or lack there of, of their brainwaves. I figured one of the vamps outside must be Victor, but had no clue as to the identity of the other. A quick scan of the human mind revealed him to be Felipe's driver, and if I was in any imminent danger, his mind didn't reveal it.
Amelia quickly excused herself with a polite nod to Felipe and headed up to her room. As she left the kitchen she thought at me that she was going to call Pam. I gave her a quick nod of approval then turned my attention back to the King as I sat down opposite from him at the table. I tried not to fidget or show my anxiety as I waited for him to explain himself.
"Miss Stackhouse, I would like to thank you once again for your assistance with that... unpleasant incident a few weeks ago," he began. Unpleasant incident? I recalled how Siegbert had been caught with his pants down, quite literally, when I'd run him down in my car. I shuddered to think what he was about to do before I intervened. I had risked my life to save a vampire who had just killed some I considered, at the least, good acquaintances in the name of territorial takeover. But I hadn't done it for Felipe, I had done it for Eric. When I felt the waves of anger and fear flooding through the blood bond, I'd had no choice but to turn around. I wasn't sure if Eric was finally able to make me heel, as he had so disgustingly put it to Andre, or if it was my own fear for his safety. "It wasn't like I had much of a choice," I replied a bit more sharply than I had intended to. Where did that sudden wave of anger come from?
Felipe arched a brow curiously at me, "You are not pleased at being bound to the viking?" he inquired.
I thought quickly, wondering how to respond to that, for I really didn't know myself. "I just seem to often find myself in mortal danger, usually against my will, in the name of helping your kind," I stated.
He nodded, though I didn't see much concern in his demeanor. Of course not, why would he care about a mere human girl being harmed in service to his far superior race? I tried not to roll my eyes. He seemed to wave the issue aside and continued with his far more important matters. "Miss Stackhouse, I am hosting a grand ball on New Year's Eve, to celebrate a new era for my kingdom and rebirth for Louisiana," he stated with a level of ego and pride that could only come from a vampire. I nearly wretched, my fake smile instantly plastering onto my face, the one I use to hide my real emotions. I thought of rescinding his invitation into my home right then and there, sickened at this King who expected the vampires of Louisiana to be overjoyed at his new rein, like he was the second coming or something.
Then I suddenly wondered why de Castro was telling me this. Oh great, he wants me to come spy on any human guests, probably to discover how Siegbert had lived or if anyone was planning a counter-coup. I was already trying to think of ways to avoid being forced into servitude when he continued. "To show my appreciation, once again, for your act of heroism, you shall accompany me to the ball as my special guest."
Say what? I thought as I blinked back at him in confusion. He quirked a brow again, as if he was shocked I hadn't fallen on my knees thanking this vampire King. "You shall be my... how do you put it... my date, Miss Stackhouse." Yep, that's what I thought he was saying. He went on, "Don't worry, I've already informed your bonded, you need not seek his permission." At that I nearly choked, sputtering into a coughing fit. Felipe looked uncomfortable for a moment, not knowing how to react to such a 'human' response. I quickly got up from the table and went over to the sink, getting myself a glass of water, thankful for the few moments of him not being able to see my face. As I gulped down the water, trying to calm my breathing and my mind, I grasped for any method of getting out of this I could find.
"You are understandably overwhelmed, dear girl, by such an honor," his voice came directly behind me, startling me. I whirled around and was confronted with the King just inches from my face. He looked down at me with a rather distasteful leer and I felt my stomach churn. His ego made Eric look like he had esteem issues, and that was no small thing. Eric... where are you... and how could you have agreed to this?? I thought. Of course I quickly realized he would have no choice in the matter. To defy the King at such a tenuous time would have been suicide, and that would hardly be helpful to my current predicament. If Eric couldn't refuse Felipe, then how could I? It was clear that I was only about a step up from a cow in the King's eyes, and because I was Eric's 'bonded', any slight against him on my part would certainly be held against Eric as well. I was trapped. Again.
I took a deep breath, shoring up what little of my frayed nerves were left, and plastered the smile back on my face. "Of course, your highness," I said in an overly sweet tone, "It would by my honor to accompany you to the ball." I swallowed down the bile now rising in my throat, and Felipe gave me a sort of smile of satisfaction, as though he had expected nothing less.
"You have pleased me, Miss Stackhouse," he lilted in his heavy accent, as if this should cause me to go weak in the knees from joy. "I shall have a car sent round for you at 8pm on the eve of the ball." He then looked about my kitchen for a moment, as if he were just now taking in his surroundings, and gave a bit of a click of disapproval with his tongue, "And I shall have appropriate attire sent over." It took every ounce of Southern charm gran had instilled in me not to slap him across the face. He was clearly inferring that he did not think I could afford, nor had the slightest notion of what appropriate attire for such an occasion would be. He was calling me poor. He was calling me... uncivilized. I couldn't speak for fear of giving into my urge to just spit in his face, and I smiled even harder at him. He probably thought me awestruck.
"I'll see you on the 31st, Miss Stackhouse," he said in farewell, bringing the back of my hand to his lips once more. As he kissed my hand I felt a tiny graze of... fang. The moment he was out the door I ran to the bathroom, no longer able to keep my lunch from earlier down. In between heaves I choked out, "Felipe de Castro, your invitation is rescinded."